A Visionary Philanthropist and Investor
A student of famous Western Pennsylvania industrialists, Mr. Dietrich was greatly influenced by Andrew Carnegie’s 1889 essay, “The Gospel of Wealth,” which argued that the wealthy possessed a duty to devote their talents and resources to the common good. As Carnegie wrote, “The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.” Shortly before Dietrich Industries, Inc., was to be sold, Mr. Dietrich elected to donate his stock to a charitable trust (aka, The Dietrich Charitable Trusts), which ultimately received approximately $170 million upon the sale of the business in 1996. Mr. Dietrich charitable vision was clear and well-documented: he desired to support select institutions of higher education and certain cultural and civic organizations in perpetuity, primarily in Western Pennsylvania.
Determined to grow the Trusts’ assets during a “second career” as an institutional investor, Mr. Dietrich made full use of strategic advantages (e.g., streamlined governance and low liquidity needs) to aggressively develop a thematic, global investment program focused largely on growing innovation and long-term consumption trends in emerging markets. With memorable charm and unrelenting salesmanship, Mr. Dietrich routinely convinced premier private equity managers around the globe – who were routinely oversubscribed – to “find a little room” for his charitable mission. Understanding that private equity was a relationship business, he developed an enduring network of global investors with whom to trade ideas. While investing the Trusts’ assets for almost two decades, Mr. Dietrich served on the investment committees of multiple non-profit organizations in Pittsburgh. In so doing, he fostered a collaborative community of forward-thinking endowment and foundation investors representing over $15 billion of assets – a community that remains strong today.
Mr. Dietrich died of complications from cancer in October 2011 at the age of 73. Per his wishes, the Dietrich Foundation was funded with the assets of the Trusts and launched its operations in January 2013, with Edward J. Grefenstette appointed as its inaugural President and Chief Investment Officer. The Dietrich Foundation is a Pennsylvania charitable trust organized and operated as a “Type I” charitable supporting organization under Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code